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Likes(278) Views(899) 13 Nov, 2017

By: Jessu P Johnson, PGDM B

Rural Camp : An Exceptional Experience

I began my journey to ‘Attappady’ all tensed and confused. I had no clue about what I would have to face at rural camp. Luckily, I sat near a window in the bus; the outside view helped me calm down.  I have noticed that staring out a window often helps me reduce all my worries. I fell asleep on the bus ride gradually, but woke up half way through the journey when someone called my name. Everyone was talking, dancing and enjoying the trip. For some reason, I was not feeling so jovial. A day without talking to my mother was unimaginable for me and I did not know how I was going to handle the fact that we are not allowed to use a phone for the 7 days we are there. I spent some time thinking about this and feeling bummed out, but thankfully decided after a while that I will not let this bother me that much. I decided to get up from my seat and go chat with my friends. I also made several new friends in the process as well.

We stopped for breakfast in between and enjoyed the rest of the journey thoroughly. By 3 pm we reached ASSO Ashram where our faculty members were waiting for us. They welcomed us with smiling faces and that instantly lifted my spirits even more. The students were asked to go to their respective dorms as soon as we reached. We wanted to take some rest as we were pretty tired. However, Jayasree Mam and Sister Joffy met us and asked us to prepare the dorm and make it stay-able. Though all tuckered out, I stood up from my bed (which seemed like the most difficult task in the world) and did what they had asked us to do.

All my happiness of being a pre-camper vanished as I came to know that pre-campers are supposed to organize the camp site in the best possible way for conducting the camp. Things seems to pile on as more worries regarding assignment of projects (I was one of the project committee heads) and arranging the camp site was ruling me. Although, I was not my best self, I still found time and energy to get to know the others in the camp, thanks to all the free time as phones were not around. We cooked together, cleaned together and enjoyed together. I remember someone's quote that traveling create an unknown bond with the fellow members. The funny thing is that initially, we pre-campers loved the camp so much that we wished that the camp be only for us. However, that opinion changed as soon as the rest of the campers arrived.

 I opted to do mess work the next day, not because I was good at cooking but because I figured that it must be easier to do.  After the mess work was done for the day, Sonia (who was another project Committee Head) and I went to finalise the project lists as per the instructions of Arun Sir (Project Committee faculty in charge). By evening we completed the task (mostly by trial and error method). I knew that when the rest of the 300 campers return from their worksite, I will not get enough time to take a bath, so I went ahead and had a good shower.

Let me just mention here that I am a person who is prone to diseases like fever and minor infections. Without fail, by night small signs of fever began to show up (Attappady is a bit cold area) and the next day, my temperature shot up. Christy who was in charge of the first aid committee checked my temperature and took me to Saji Sir and asked if I had to be taken me to the hospital. He asked me to give it a day and see if it is reducing and that if it did not, I should be taken to the hospital next day. Christy took me to her dorm and gave me some meds and consoled me with her smile. The meds and medicinal coffee at the night helped subside the fever and by next day, it was completely gone. The next day I was so back to normal that I could walk with my friends itself to tribal areas (as our assigned project on that day was tribal visit). The whole day was an amazing experience and if I had been taken to the hospital and admitted there, I would have missed it (Thanks to Saji Sir).

At the worksite, I ate sugarcane from one of the villager’s house, had guava which was freshly plucked from the tree, I met Lakshmi Amma and talked to her a lot as it was raining we had to wait by her house. We talked all the while, she sang several tribal songs for us, and she even had a lot of questions about us. When the rain subsided and we were about to leave, she hugged me good bye. When I looked at her I noticed that her eyes were filled with tears. She was living in a house all alone on the top of the mountain. When she got sometime to chat with us she was so happy and I realized how lonely she might be. The ASSO member who came with us (Jolly Chechy) noticed Lakshmi Amma crying as well and asked us to stay some more time and we ended up being there a lot more time than planned.

By the end of the second day we came to know that the campers were very hardworking that almost all work was completed and we had to assign more projects. They completed those work too very fast. On the third day it was raining and my group got assigned a tough work of laying water pipe in ASSO Ashram. It was a slippery terrain and many of us found it very difficult to do the work. That’s when we realised the importance of physical strength and helping each other. Since it involved hard physical labour and teamwork each one of us helped each other and together we successfully completed the work. That day was an amazing experience for us a group and I understood that hard labour can create a strong bond among the members. After we finished our work, we went to the nearby river to freshen up and returned to the camp site. I quickly finished my task of assigning the next day’s projects and that night we had cultural programs.

We were asked to perform a skit based on a topic given by teachers for the cultural programs. We had actually prepared a skit already, so we were devastated. However, we cheered each other up and prepared to write a new script soon. As all other programs were scheduled (Dance, Songs, fashion show) my main task was to ensure that all those who aren't a part of anything must be a part of the skit so that everyone will be on the stage at one point or the other. Because of the screaming deadline, the script was ready in 10 minutes and went on stage to perform it after one round of practise. By God’s grace the skit went really well and our team got the best cultural award and Pavitra who was our official MC got the best performer award.

The next day we celebrated Onam at Attappady. Group 12 was assigned to pluck the flowers for the floral carpet. We had several cultural programs during the celebration. There, during the onam celebrations, we enjoyed our last moment together in the rural camp. By night, I was so sad that the camp was going to end. Towards the end, I truly fell in love with the camp. During the last night session, I shared my takeaways with the fellow campers. We had a B’day celebration as well for all those who missed their celebration during the camp. And sadly, I realised then that it was my mother's B’day as well. Remembering her for the rest of the night, I packed my bag and fall asleep.

The next day we were asked to pile our bags together at one place and we cleaned the rest of the camp site and bid bye to Attappady. I don’t know If  I will ever visit Attappady, but the village gave me a lot of good memories and I'm sure that I will not forget those memorable seven days. When we leaf it was raining and fog blocked our way. Maybe Attappady also felt the same. Maybe the nature loved us and did not want us to leave or maybe it was the nature’s way of bidding farewell.

Editor's Note: Jessu was selected as the Best Camper for Rajagiri Rural Camp 2017

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